Jameis Winston suspended: Has the FSU star QB learned anything at all?
Florida State suspended Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for the first half of Saturday night’s game against Clemson for comments the QB made Tuesday, which were "vulgar and offensive," but don’t think that’s all this suspension is about.
Anyone thinking that this was just some overboard PC reaction to an Internet meme is missing the point or too delusional to want to see it.
Winston’s comments — made at the FSU student union, detailed on Twitter by various Florida State students who witnessed them and later published in a Deadspin story — were of the knucklehead variety. If another star player had made them, I’m not sure they would’ve gotten that much attention. Then again, no other star player in college football is Jameis Winston or has his track record.
Winston yelling about something so obscene, so degrading to women — in public no less — was in fact newsworthy and, quite frankly, mind-numbing given the fact that he was investigated after sexual assault allegations and is now under Title IX investigation at Florida State for his sexual encounter with a then-FSU coed in December 2012. Winston’s grasp of the severity of those issues in light of his comments Tuesday had to leave many wincing, especially since the star quarterback had also made headlines and was suspended by the Noles’ baseball program for his crab legs mess at a Publix. One of those who had to be cringing was Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher.
When I first read the Deadspin story, I immediately thought back to my sitdown two months ago for FOX Sports 1 with Winston and then with Fisher, who gushed about his star’s character. I brought up a comment Winston told me at the Heisman ceremony last December, in the wake of the sexual assault allegations, that Fisher had explained to his QB that "to be a man, the kid in you must die." So I asked Fisher if he worried, after the crab legs story, whether Winston got the message.
Fisher told me he thinks Winston "did get the message," and then went into great detail about the honest mistake and what happened with the crab legs incident.
"He’ll educate himself. He’ll learn from that, but Jameis is a tremendous human being," Fisher said. "He is a great people person. There is no ill will or malice in his body. There’s really not.
"I say the child must die as far as decision-making, but at the same time, I like the child in him because you see the fun-loving of him and the joy from playing the game, and I don’t want that to ever go out of him.”
On Wednesday on the ACC coaches teleconference, Fisher was asked about Winston’s actions and called them "not a good decision," adding that it was "something that has to be addressed. You can’t make certain statements that are derogatory or inflammatory to any person, race or gender. You have to understand that. … You have to be very intelligent about what you say, because it matters."
Fisher was right. It did HAVE to be addressed by the school. His star player has exhibited behavior that demonstrated he had either no awareness of his profile or just didn’t care much about the reputation of his school or his coaches and was leaving them to look like enablers.
I’m not going to get into much here about what NFL personnel people must be thinking about whether you could trust this guy to be the face of a franchise. Or what kind of impact this has on the Heisman race. Or what the playoff committee might think should Clemson go on to upset the Seminoles. I doubt the Tigers will win in Tallahassee. I think FSU’s D and its O-line are that good and believe even if the school sat Winston for the entire game, the Noles would still win.
Winston later addressed the local media and apologized to the university, his coaches and teammates on Wednesday.
"I’m not a ‘me’ person, but in that situation it was a selfish act and that’s not how you do things around here," he said. "I really want to apologize to my teammates because I’ve done a selfish act."
Winston also said he’d make sure his teammates move forward and think positively about Saturday’s game, saying, “You’ve got to overcome adversity, and that’s one thing at Florida State we do.”
That quote rings hollow and raises the most important question: Has Winston actually learned from anything he’s been through in the past year?
Right now, it doesn’t seem like it. When Winston tosses out a line about “overcoming adversity” at Florida State, he misses the entire point of what FSU’s coaches mean. This is not an injury or some factor out of the Seminoles’ control. This is all Winston’s doing — he creates his own adversity and has become his own worst enemy. When he stops building his own messes to be cleaned up, then we’ll finally have our answer.
Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FOX Sports 1. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB.